MIKE DODDS claims Yann M’Vila’s lack of involvement with West Brom justifies Sunderland’s decision to pass up the opportunity to re-sign the midfielder in January.

The Black Cats were offered the chance to recruit M’Vila at the turn of the year, with the former Black Cats midfielder having been a free agent following his departure from Olympiacos last summer.

In the end, West Brom made a move for the 33-year-old in mid-February, handing him a short-term contract to the end of the season, with Baggies boss, Carlos Corberan, having previously worked with him in Greece.

Having needed time to build up his match fitness, M’Vila finally made his first West Brom start in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Rotherham, so while he might also be involved in tomorrow’s game against Sunderland at the Hawthorns, his lack of involvement in the last two months helps explain why his former employers were so reluctant to offer him a deal at the start of the year.

“I think the midfield is probably an area that needs addressing moving forwards, but what I would say about Yann M’Vila is that (Wednesday night) was his first game he’s played for West Brom,” said Dodds.

“I don’t know what the circumstances are for him, or for West Brom, but if we had signed him in January, then in the same circumstances, we would only have been seeing him with four games to go.


“In terms of that situation, that’s the point I would make to people. He’s only made his first start now, so he probably wouldn’t have helped us. However, I do feel there are a number of positions that need more depth. I think midfield is one of a number of those positions.”

M’Vila is one of two high-profile former Sunderland players now on West Brom’s books, with Josh Maja having moved to the Hawthorns last summer.

Maja, who left Wearside in a controversial move to Bordeaux in January 2019, has suffered an injury-hit campaign that has seen him limited to just one Championship start.

He came off the bench for the final seven minutes of the midweek win over Rotherham, but Dodds does not expect to see either Maja or M’Vila in the starting line-up for tomorrow’s game.

“I think they’ll both be involved, although if I’m honest, I’ll be surprised if they both start,” he said. “Josh has been out since he played us last time and unfortunately got an injury (in mid-December), and Yann M’Vila was making his first start the other night, so I’d be very surprised if he went back to back in the space of a week.

“My gut feeling is that they won’t feature from the start, but they might feature at some point. The Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world, and teams have to utilise their squads.

“I’m sure Carlos will be doing that. If you look at the subs he made and the timing of the players that came on (against Rotherham), then I would have thought there’ll be a suggestion that he’s going to make some changes, but I would be surprised if both of them start.”